Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Chronicles of NaNoWriMo 2012

In case you're unsure, as the graphic is a little subtle I know, I won the National Novel Writing Month challenge this year. You know, whatever, no big deal. It's just a 200 page novel. In a month, but not the kind of month you're probably thinking of. No, I didn't write this new novel in one of those 150 day months, I did it in one of those crazy ones that only has 30 days in it. I know. And it's not like I've never written a novel before (I guess I've never actually finished one) in my 22ish years of life (shut up, I said ish). So like I said. No. Big. Woop.

Except that it kind of is, which isn't to say that thousands of participants around the world didn't also meet this crazy writing goal during the month of November this year, because lots did, but inside my tiny corner of the world, within my little life, it's a pretty big deal. Now I know how much better I do with deadlines when it comes to writing, and I know that if I really want to, I can make daily writing a priority above all the things that usually beat it to the top of the list, but not just daily writing (like the blog), but a lot of daily writing. 

But it's not done yet, no sir. Fifty thousand words does not a complete novel make, at least not in this case. On Friday when I passed the 50,000 word mark I was giddy. I high-fived fellow writers in the pub and giggled a little at my own shock and ordered the most expensive whiskey on the menu (it was only €4.50). The weekend after I hit the mark was super busy, but I didn't have to find the time to fit in a bunch of writing, so it was a nice break. Now I'm kind of itchy because I haven't written until today, so it would seem good habits aren't such an impossibility. Quick, give me a keyboard, I can't take it anymore, I need to write!

While I'm certainly not abandoning the new novel, this week is all about playing catch-up with life in general, Christmastizing the house, and getting re-organized post NaNoWriMo craziness. I started out making notes about the process with the intention of sharing here in some kind of witty and interesting way, and then it kind of crumbled into a pitiful pile of good intention, as you'll see below. 

NaNoWriMo 2012

Because I'm not sure if this will be entertaining or interesting, I'm keeping track as the days pass but keeping it all together to post as one big comment on the whole experience at the conclusion of this experience.

* Oct. 30 & 31 were spent obsessing and worrying and effectively talking myself out of jumping in with this new novel idea. I read a little, watched TV, checked email compulsively, and stressed myself right out.


And GO!

Nov. 1 - I got a good start, logging 2,156 words. If you divide 50,000 words by 30 days you get 1,666.666 words per day, so really I totally kicked today's goal of 1,667 words in the ass.

Went to a kick-off get together at the library tonight for a little Q&A with three different published writers and chat time with other Wrimos. Kirsten Carlson, Amber Riley, & Dan Wells, thanks for getting things going.

The best moment of the evening: The collective gasp of the entire room when horror author Dan Wells suggested not allowing yourself to use the 'delete' button while writing this month. Scary stuff.

Nov. 7 - I'm up to 12,567 words and feeling pretty good. (That's 30 pages in week one!) 

The election is over and I'm so glad I got to sleep through all the waiting last night in the States and just wake up to the results and President Obama's acceptance speech. Sometimes the difference in time zones is a good thing.

Yesterday YA and mystery author Bonnie Ramthun talked to a room full of writers via Skype about her experiences with traditional publishing, offering us all kinds of helpful tidbits she said she wished she would have known when she was just starting out. Maybe I'll write up a blog-o-tips for writers after I catch my breath from this month.

Every day when I sit down to write I struggle against the feeling that I have no idea what I'm doing, but each day I also feel so lucky and supported, to stop is not an option. I don't know if it's the worldwide juju of other writers or the fact that I'm meeting successful authors who want to help me reach my goal, but something is certainly in the air.


Nov. 8 - Dan Wells just blew my mind with his presentation about outlining...the 7 Point System is exactly what I've been needing to get my stories organized. After scribbling furiously everything he projected on the screen, he gave us the link to this very presentation online. Blast, my aching hand, but now I've got it to refer back to whenever, which is wonderful. He's also one of 3 or 4 other writers who put on a 15 minute podcast weekly about all things writing, which I'll actually include in a later post. 

The day after Dan's session a piece of wall behind my writing desk became a giant story map. I spent the whole day constructing it and getting to know my own story better. It was fantastic. The math loving side of my brain is drooling over this formula, while the creative side searches for ways to reinvent it.

Same evening, we Skyped with Beth Groundwater, a mystery author out of Colorado. She talked to us about networking not only with publishers and agents, but other writers and writing organizations. Lots of good stuff here.


Holy shenanigans, I am on fire! A 5,000 word day and I'm still going! Love this, love this, love this feeling of being caught up in a wave of inspiration when the characters start making their own choices and I'm just here to write it all down, a medium to the story inside me. 


Nov. 14 - Balancing Dialogue, Action, and Narrative
    and   Determining Genre
    and   Writing a Log Line and Synopsis with Margi Desmond and Thomas Edgar

Lots more great tips for summing up what you've been pouring your soul into over the last month(s) in order to sell it to others who'll want to publish it and make you very happy.

Mario Acevedo Skyped in to talk about the benefits of attending writing conferences - I can't wait for my first one in the spring!


As I near the home stretch of this insane writing commitment, I'm struggling with what I'm doing. At this moment, I hate my story and feel wholly incapable of writing a cohesive story anyone would want to read. My characters are running all over the place and what I thought was well-planned is now fraying out in so many directions I want to quit. This is so frustrating! 

In the end (and after a tearful breakdown in front of Chris) I realize even if this novel never leaves this house, I will have learned a great deal from this experience, and no writing is wasted effort because it all helps build me as an author. Breathe. I can finish. It's important that I finish. 

I can I can I can I will I will I will.


Nov. 27 - SCBWI Panel with Kirsten Carlson and Jen Blom

The Society for Children's Books Writers and Illustrators is a global organization that started in California that connects people with a love of children's books and films together in one giant network. I joined this year and am loving the resources available to me, even if my YA manuscript turned out not to be YA after all.

Nov. 28 - It's all about the query letter when the novel's ready to shop around, pitching well, and finding an agent to represent your work in the publishing industry.

Donnell Ann Bell Skyped in our final night to talk about how writing contests can lend a hand by giving great feedback, and possibly giving a previously unknown author a launch into the published world.


And this brings us back around to Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, the final day of NaNoWriMo, when I typed past that 50,000 word mark and celebrated with a manly dram of whiskey and allowed myself to feel genuinely proud for a little while.

Now it's time to start revising, when I'm told the real work begins. I'm grateful to have had this crazy experience because it connected me with lots of other writers and authors I wouldn't have otherwise met, and opened a world up to me I didn't realize was so close.

Will I do it again next year? You bet :)  


  1. Yay!! I'm so happy for you!!! You've definitely earned a chance to chill and enjoy all the fun Christmastime preparation. Thanks for sharing your notes. It was neat to see what sort of thoughts and experiences you had throughout this writing process.

  2. And I'm just stopping by to tell you, and everyone you know, Linz that I am really, really proud of your stick-to-itivness. You knuckled under without going under, you reached out without getting side-tracked out there, you looked inside - without getting lost in there, you struggled, you rejoiced, you road the roller-coaster; you despaired and you did it anyway.

    In the last analysis it was you, all by yourself, at your desk, with your fanny in your chair who earned the title: Winner. Good job.

  3. Aw shucks :) Thanks guys. I'm pretty proud of me, too. I appreciate the support and good vibes from all of you, and thanks Nancy for sitting beside me all these Fridays reminding me that I'm capable of more than I sometimes think.

  4. You ROCK! I am going to blog about MY success...ie, starting and FAILING the Nanowrimo....right now. You inspire me! Keep going....I can't wait to read it!!! CONGRATULATIONS! YOU ARE A WINNER!!!!

  5. And yeah... I am going to do it again next year too! REMIND ME!!!

  6. And the year after that and the year after that!!! Oh, save it for the blog Christine!

  7. i could not stop smiling the whole time i read this i am so proud of you fellow blogger, so happy for you keep on rocking it!
    xo katy